I was hoping to have something rather inspiring or encouraging to say at the start of this new year. That’s what everyone wants and expects, isn’t it?
New year. Fresh start. A time for resolutions, starting again, revisiting and assessing hopes and dreams, perhaps.
But I find myself weighed down by comparison and envy.
In a previous post, I reflected on the power of reframing envy into gratitude. Rather than focusing on another’s uniqueness as a threat, to welcome and rejoice in it as gift.
This is very important, and very powerful, I believe. But it is also difficult to do.
In an age of instant entertainment and social media, we are drowning in input—so much of which causes us to set up comparisons between ourselves and others. We look around us at our own lives feeling bored or inferior because we don’t have x or haven’t done y and z.
Even those of us who intentionally limit our input to both entertainment and social media struggle with this. People we know (or wish we knew) have so much going for them. They’re getting that new job or gig, landing a contract or having their idea accepted and lauded. And we, well . . . we keep trucking along. Unnoticed. Unseen. (Or so we think, in comparison.)
Scripture teaches us to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15). I’ve always found it easier to do the former. When a friend loses a loved one—or when fire ravages hundreds of homes, as it did just days ago in my state—it’s easy to mourn alongside. Why would we want to glory in anyone’s misery, sadness, ache, or loss?
But somehow, when things go well for others, we can find ourselves begrudging their success. We wish it were ours. We wish, perhaps that they did not have that opportunity, that they were instead “stuck” in the same places where we feel stuck. Then life might feel a bit more “fair.”
I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.
And while I’m not saying that I feel like this all the time, it is a monthly, weekly, often even a daily struggle.
We are people of longing and desire. We were made to create. To make the world a place of beauty and goodness. It is right that we have desires, and even when they are twisted, the root desires are usually good in their essence. We desire to create beauty. To become beauty ourselves.
Too often our insecurities, our sin patterns, and all else which distorts our good desires get in the way of a proper perspective. Instead of rejoicing with others, we envy. We imagine that the world is a place of scarcity, and so we wish that instead of the other succeeding, we would get to succeed instead. A scarcity mindset causes us to envy, fight, and destroy.
But what if we took on an abundance mindset instead? Each of us are unique, with our own set of eyes, ears, tastebuds, nerve endings, interests, imaginations . . . . We each of us has something unique to offer. Even though we may not contribute “evenly” as far as reach and type of contribution, we each can take responsibility to living fully alive to the goodness around us and within us—that God created us to be co-creators of goodness and beauty, both with him and with one another.
Let us not tear one another down. I know it can be difficult to rejoice with others when we are feeling in a dry place creatively, but let me encourage us not to view one another as enemies. We can and ought to lift one another up.
While envy is a reaction, rejoicing is and can be a response—one that you choose. Let us choose to rejoice, even if we might feel tinges of envy. Let us speak the truth about the goodness and beauty we see others creating, and ask ourselves what we might be able to offer in time to come.